Shiloh Dog

Every one should have a “Shiloh” dog in their lifetime.  I was lucky, I grew up with dogs and have always had dogs and I love all of my dogs so much that it hurts sometimes.  But with Shiloh dog it was different, I fell in love with him right after I got him and in my mind he was that one in a million dog that most people never get, even breeders and trainers who have known and worked with hundreds of dogs.  Every once in a while I’ll get a call from someone who has a Shiloh dog and they can’t explain their love for that dog in words, and I smile remembering my boy and tell them how lucky they are and to let their Shiloh dog know each and every day how much they love them because their time on this earth is way to short.

Shiloh was my second dog on my own.  I adopted him from the Devore Animal Shelter on August 17th, 1999 at approximately 6 months old.  He had eyes that would melt your heart and that is what sold me on him.  Shiloh developed demodectic mange, one of the worst cases my vet had ever seen just a month after coming out of the shelter.  I almost lost him several times during that battle.  Fortunately, he pulled through but was left with Canine Lupus and required treatment through his lifetime.

Throughout his lifetime Shiloh dog only played with one toy and that was the Stingray.  Fortunately I was able to buy 20 of them and so he always had one when we had to exchange the old one.

When I first brought Shiloh home I introduced him to Samantha my golden retriever/chow mix and he loved her from the beginning.  Samantha was a very tolerant girl since Shiloh thought that every limb was a tasty chew toy and would sit out in the patio on all 4 legs while Shiloh tugged at her tail.  Shiloh later went on to welcome Abby into his life a husky and then later Hershey Hound who he did not like in the beginning and let Hershey know by detailing his ears with punctures.  With some work the two of them became best friends chasing each other, smiling and playing.  Yes, my Shiloh boy smiled with his eyes.

I remember the trips up to Big Bear and Crestline to run with him and the car sickness through his puppyhood.  Thankfully he outgrew that and the chewing at age 2.  Not before he had eaten a fence, patio furniture, a hose, Sam’s legs, etc.  Oh and did I mention he loved Bitter Apple!  I also remember riding horses with Shiloh right beside me and the time the horse tried to back us down the embankment and Shiloh nipped his heels and probably saved my life.  Or the many trail runs in which my boy was always off leash because I had a solid recall and he would sit to the side of the trail for horses, mountain bikers, runner and hikers.  We encountered 2 mountain lions on our many runs.  Both times Shiloh knew we were being followed and let me know by trying to herd me back down the trail.  Both times we saw these magnificent animals and Shiloh remained by my side.  My boy ran with me until he was 10 years old, and we were out on a run and he looked at me stopped and sat down, I knew our running days were over.  So from then on we took leisurely strolls, which he enjoyed immensely.

I lost my Shiloh boy to Leukemia on June 14, 2011.  He was diagnosed 4 weeks before and I was told he probably had a few days but he went for 4 quality weeks.  On the morning of the 14th he looked at me and I knew in his eyes it was time.  It was the hardest decision I have ever made.  Shiloh’s ashes now sit in a beautiful urn on our fireplace mantle.  The urn says “Perfect Boy Forever in Our Hearts”.

 Shiloh dog was one of a kind.  He was my friend, my companion.  So if you are lucky enough to have a Shiloh dog in your life tell them how much you love them each and every day and cherish every moment with them because they are one in a million.


Trail Etiquette for Dogs and their Guardians


This last weekend I led a dog hike on a beautiful trail system in Loma Linda.  My dog Hershey proudly wore his doggie backpack and when he pooped on the trail I got out his doggie poop bag, picked the poop up and attached it to his backpack.  I had someone stop and ask me why I was bothering to pick up his poop on the trail.  I was astonished, I would never think to just leave it on trail so here goes my newest blog on trail etiquette.

Why should you pick up dog poop on the trail?

Would you let dog poop pile up on your front lawn? I surely hope not, so why is the trail any different?  It is a simple thing to carry poop bags and pick up after your dog on trail and it is the right thing to do and part of being a responsible guardian to your dog.

Where should dogs walk in reference to you on trail?

I recently had a dog lover who joined us for one of our hikes tell me that they were on another dog hike and were told that dogs should always walk behind you and if they try to get in front of you, you need to kick them.  I was in shock, kick them I asked?  Yes kick them.  I’m sorry I don’t kick my dogs.  He said well we were told that you can’t let them in front because that allows them to be dominant.  Ah got it!  Dominance Theory revisited, see my last blog post regarding this outdated theory. Number one please never kick your dog and if someone tells you that is training please walk away because that is not training that is power and control and there is no place for that in dog training.  My dogs walk in front, in back or to my side.  They walk where they are comfortable.  If they pull we either stop or do a recall and continue.  Again referring to my last article dogs do not pull because they want to be dominant, they pull to get where they are going faster, and if you let them pull they learn that works and they keep pulling.  So you don’t want your dogs dragging you down the trail, but let your dogs enjoy the hike at your side, behind you or in front of you.  There are so many smells on trail and with Hershey being a Coon Hound he is in heaven a little in front without pulling.

Should dogs be off leash on trail?

That depends on a couple of things.  Does the trail your on allow dogs to  be off leash?  Do you have a reliable recall on your dog?  My Shiloh dog was my running partner and I lost him at the age of 13 in June.  He always ran with me off leash on trails that permitted off leash dogs.  He ran in front because that was his preference.  I had a reliable recall on him at all times.  He would not take off chasing a rabbit or a deer.  We even came upon a Mountain Lion on one of our many adventures and again my Shiloh did not chase after the big cat.  When Mountain Bikers would come down the trail I would give him say “off trail” and he would go to the far side of the trail and sit while the mountain bikers went by.  He did the same for horses.  I never hesitated having him off leash because I knew that I could depend on him to respond to recall or commands off leash.  So if the trail permits your dog to be off leash and you have a 100% reliable recall I say yes go for it let your dog explore.  However, if your dog dashes down the trail and has to say hi to every person and dog they meet along the way I would say no.  Some people are afraid of dogs, some dogs need space on leash.  So the bottom line is know your dog before you let them off leash on trail.

Happy Trails…….

The Bite of it!

Dog bites are on the rise according to the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality “the number of Americans hospitalized for dog bites almost  doubled over a 15 year period, increasing to 9,500 in 2008 from 5,100 in 1993.  In an informal survey of children conducted by “Be a Tree” program out of the 859 children who filled out a questionnaire, 54% had been bitten.  The conclusion is that there is a dog bite problem and it affects children and dogs the most.  Most dog bites do not occur without warning and most dogs who bite risk euthanasia.  So how can we keep both kids and dogs safe?

Last year I became a “Be A Tree” presenter.  As a dog trainer I Speak Dog.  I have many years of experience reading dog body language.  This is important in bite prevention because the majority of dog bites are provoked unintentionally by children who mean well but are unable to Speak dog.  My job as a Be a Tree presenter is to help children Speak Dog.  Because happy dogs are less likely to bite and happy dogs come from understanding dog body language.  There is an excellent book available from titled “May I pet Your Dog?” I would highly recommend this book to all parents of small children.  I also work with children to teach them what to do if they encounter a strange dog.  I work to educate children because knowledge is power and could save their life and that of their canine companion.

I offer presentations to children FREE of charge for non-profit groups.  So please contact me today if you are interested in a presentation for the children in your community.  It takes a village to raise a child and it takes education and empowerment to keep our children and canine companions safe.  Call today.

Protecting all victims of Domestic Violence

According to Massachusetts State Senator Katherine Clark of all the women seeking a shelter due to domestic violence 85% also reported pet abuse in their home. Last March in Lowell, Massachusetts a Lowell man was charged with several counts of assault and battery and animal cruelty against his girlfriend, a second victim, and his girlfriend’s dogs. Miguel Andino allegedly threatened to kill his girlfriend’s family if she attempted to end the relationship. He also allegedly beat her dogs, strangling them until their eyes hemorrhaged, and locked the smallest dog in a drawer for up to 10 hours at a time. This troubling case is one example of the dangerous link between domestic violence and animal abuse. Each year more than three million women across the country are victims of domestic violence, making it the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44. In the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten every 9 seconds. Despite the abuse, battered women often delay in leaving these abusive relationships. Studies by the American Humane Society show that nearly half of battered women delay leaving an abusive environment because they fear for a pet’s safety.

This topic touches close to home for me.  I am a survivor of domestic violence and I have always had animals in my life who I consider part of my family.  My abuser used the animals as a weapon to prevent me from leaving by making comments such as “if you leave you will come back and they will all be dead.”  I later learned after I got the help I needed to safely leave protecting myself and my animals that he not only made these threats but according to my neighbors he would routinely punch my husky/shepherd directly in the face in the front yard until he would fall to the ground.  He would also routinely kick his small dog across the yard.  My neighbors were to afraid to call and report the animal abuse because they feared for my safety.  I wish they had called and reported it.  My pup recovered but it took him many years to trust people again.  I also recovered and am now in a healthy marriage and have never looked back.  However, there are many women who are not so lucky and are continuing to live in this cycle of violence.  A friend of mine left her domestically violent husband and during the custody dispute involving the children he went to her home shot her dog in the head and left it on her doorstep.  These type of incidents must end.  It is time to Pay it Forward and here is how you can help…

  • Report incidents of violence to animals to your local SPCA and Law Enforcement agencies.
  • Offer to foster a survivors animals until she can relocate safely.
  • Work with animal shelters, veterinarians, and rescue groups to establish “safe haven” foster care programs for the animal victims of domestic violence.
  • Help survivors to include a plan for their pets in safety planning strategies.
  • Help survivors to contact Law Enforcement and Humane agencies in order to safely retireve animals left behind.
  • Make sure that animals are included in restraining orders.
  • Help survivors find pet friendly transitional and permanent housing.
  • When survivors can no longer care for their pets, help find a rescue organization that can take their pets and rehome them.
  • If you are a victim of domestic violence contact your local humane society, SPCA, animal control agency, or veterinarian to see if they have temporary foster care facilities for your pets.

The fact is that pets are frequently used by abuser as pawns in the power and control dynamics of the abuser over the abused.  The more cherished the pet the more the pet can and will be used as a means of control.  Animal abuse is used as a means to get victims to stay or to return to the home which often results in homicide.  This is an issue that cannot be overlooked and swept under the carpet.  Domestic violence strikes one in four women (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence, July     2000. The Commonwealth Fund, Health Concerns Across a Woman’s Lifespan: 1998 Survey of Women’s Health, 1999).  We must speak out and lend a hand now to protect both victims and pets from further abuse.

For more information on this topic please visit American Humane and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  You can also contact your local domestic violence shelter and inquire.

Lets all make a pledge in 2012  to help protect both victims and pets from further domestic violence.  Pay it Forward today!

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